Every collision, whether a fender-bender or a major accident, creates chaos. Emotions are running high due to injuries, damage, and adrenaline. The first priority, of course, is assisting anyone who is injured. Call 911 to summon medical assistance, if necessary.
Then, assess the scene to determine whether moving cars is necessary for safety reasons. If not, don't touch anything, so police can conduct a proper investigation.
The next step is beginning your own investigation:
- Make thorough notes about the accident, including what happened, what led up to the crash and other factors.
- Take lots of photographs of damage to the cars and the scene, such as trees and utility poles. You also can use your phone to make video recordings. Look for details that might be important, such as skid marks and road hazards, including pavement and weather conditions.
- Get statements and contact information from witnesses.
- Exchange insurance and contact information with other drivers.
- Document your physical condition. Include every ache and pain, no matter how minor. Small bumps and bruises can develop into bigger health issues days or even weeks later. Ask other people about their conditions, too.
- Do not sign anything at the scene unless you are 100 percent certain what it means.
- Only discuss the accident with police. Do not admit guilt. Make no statements to other people.
- When speaking with police, make arrangements to obtain a copy of their official accident report.
Your attitude is important, too
Remain as calm as possible. This can be difficult, especially if there are injuries and people are panicking. It is worth the effort, helping you better remember and record details for police and your insurance company.
Avoid arguing with other motorists or witnesses. Remain neutral and tell them you are collecting information for insurance reasons. Do not make statements about fault or apologize for your role in the crash, which could be interpreted as an admission of guilt and used against you later.
In a similar manner, cooperate with police and other emergency personnel. Obey all of their instructions in a respectful manner. Making their jobs easy reflects well on you and can cause them to look at you in a more favorable light.
What’s the next step after a collision?
Your behavior and attitude can help set you up for a favorable resolution of your accident. Even so, you are likely to face obstacles. You may have injuries that require long-term care. The other driver is not going to admit any fault and will blame you for the crash. An insurance company may try to pressure you into accepting a lowball settlement offer.
The car accident attorneys at Merriman Legal have experience handling cases just like yours in Cleveland and throughout Ohio. We will treat you with respect while diligently working to secure a fair settlement for you and your family. Contact us today for a free case consultation.